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Published: 01 August 2020

By Andy Ross

Monkey Shrine

Judith Mason, 1938 - 2016, was a South African artist who produced powerful political and philosophical work, dealing with many diverse issues such as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the country, injustice, concepts of beauty, and religion. One of her pieces, "The Man Who Sang and the Woman Who Kept Silent", is in the collection of the Constitutional Court in South Africa, and uses the motif of a dress made out of blue plastic bags, sewn together to create a dress on which is written a poem commemorating Phila Ndwandwe who died in police custody. Justice Albie Sachs called the work "one of the great pieces of art in the world of the late 20th century". Over the course of her life, Judith created paintings, books and worked with other artists to create tapestries. 

The photo-lithographs now in the collection were bought at auction this year. They are a collection called "Monkey Shrine", tapestries made from Judith's powerful paintings which mixed religious iconography and symbolism with the practice of monkey worship. In storage at the moment, it is planned that they go up to the studio in Yell for display.